Battery beauty is not ‘skin deep’

24 April 2008

A battery’s ability to take and hold a charge depends on the condition of the plates within its

A battery’s ability to take and hold a charge depends on the condition of the plates within its

An unexpected cost to replace traction batteries might wreck the economic justification for used equipment, but there is another reason to carefully check batteries before buying a machine. Battery condition can be an indication of general machine condition. “Any electrical problems in the machine will manifest themselves in the batteries,” says Tony Miller, product and business development manager with German battery manufacturer Varta.

However, “It is difficult to assess [battery] condition; there is nothing to see that is an indicator of wear”, says Mr Miller. There is no easy way to determine how frequency of use, level of discharge, and charging rate and level have affected battery condition, which can only be “100% accurately determined in a laboratory.”

The next best estimate of remaining battery life, according to Mr Miller, comes from a conductance test, which can be done anywhere. Bosch makes a hand-held device, available for about £650 (౛970), that relates electrical conductance through the battery cells to its rating for cold cranking current. The device reports battery condition in clear, simple terms - ‘good’, ‘good but needs charge’, ‘no good’ - and will definitely identify ‘dead’ cells. If the batteries of a platform you want to buy test ‘no good’, you might next consider finding out why.

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